The Bullet Journal Method

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Productivity is something I focus on every day. We wear so many hats on a day to day basis within our classroom and school (teacher, coach, parent, counsellor, mentor, administrator, curriculum designer etc) that we can easily become overwhelmed by what I like to call the “storm” of teaching. It’s important that we consider strategies to manage this overwhelm and look after our hauora as we battle through a long term. One thing that has helped me more recently is the Bullet Journal Method by Ryder Carrol.

What is the Bullet Journal Method?

So, what is the Bullet Journal Method? My technical description of it would be an analogue, non linear, modular system designed to track the past, order the present, and design the future. The simplified description would be journaling in a dot notebook that contains a series of collections or elements that you reflect on and track on a day to day basis. Check out Ryder describing his method in this short video:

Application for educators

How could this system help you as a teacher? Well there are two essential components of the method that will support you inside and outside of the classroom. One is the Daily log (and rapid logging), the other is Collections.

Rapid / daily log

Rapid logging is the Bullet Journal language and involves recording tasks, events and notes within your daily log through a system of symbols. This all falls under the tag line of track your past, order the present, and design the future. Like a hybrid to-do list / planner, the daily log allows you to record key thoughts and events as they happen, as well as required tasks and any events that you have for the day. What differentiates this from a traditional planner or to do list is the recording of thoughts as they spring up.

For me this serves two purposes. It removes or parks (to be reflected on later that evening) any distraction an idea could be giving me at that point in time, allowing me to be more present in the moment. And it serves as a record that I can go back and revisit later. Lets say I had a really challenging week and upon reflection I couldn’t determine the cause or reason for it. Often by revisiting my rapid logging during that week I can see some of the thoughts, ideas or tasks that could be causing additional challenges, stress or overwhelm.

Collections

Collections are when notes and tasks are related by a common theme or purpose. You don’t want these floating all throughout your journal, so you group them almost like their own project. Collections for me are placed on an open spread and have a planning or brainstorm page and a task page. The brainstorm page is where I dump any idea or thought that will move that project forward and the task page is where I list required tasks for that project. Collections are checked on a daily basis and I migrate tasks from this page into my daily log before I go to bed at night. This ensures my following day is set in advance with any event or tasks that need to be addressed.

As an educator, we could have any number of collections in our journal: pastoral care, unit planning, trip planning, professional learning, class collections, department planning, school wide administration.. The potential here is huge.

And it all comes back to one simple rationale: track the past, order the present, and design the future.

I listened to the Audible version of the book by Ryder Carrol, then ordered the physical book within the first hour of listening! I have to say, the physical book is a stunning with a beautiful soft feel matte cover and lovely hand drawn illustrations throughout.

If you’re looking for a system to reduce overwhelm and increase productivity inside and outside of the classroom, I suggest picking up this book and giving it a read. You can get the book from Amazon here: https://amzn.to/2mZ2HqX (affiliate link) and dot journals can be purchased from Mightyape for around $25.

Carl Condliffe

Carl Condliffe

Carl Condliffe is the host of the Augmented Learning Podcast & Vlog. He is currently employed at Rongotai College and has been a Head of Department for 11 years. Carl is a big proponent of flipped learning, gamification and play based learning, running workshops about these concepts all across the world.

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